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Vera Lynn

The mere mention of Vera Lynn's name evokes images of London skies filled with barrage balloons, and Britons riding out the German blitz in shelters and underground stations. England's sweetheart during the trying times of World War II, Lynn was still in her twenties when she took on that role. She was born Vera Margaret Welch in London's East Ham, to Bertram and Annie Welch, one year before the close of the First World War. She began singing as a girl of seven, also studying dance as a child. She later took her maternal grandmother's maiden name as her stage name, and her natural, unaffected vocal style and charm brought Lynn early success on the radio. At age 18, she was singing with Joe Loss' orchestra, nd she'd also begun recording for the Crown label. By the end of the 1930s, after stints working for Charlie Kunz's and Bert Ambrose's bands, Lynn got her own radio series. This event coincided with the end of what was known as the "Phony War," that period in which men were being conscripted and sent overseas, rearmament rushed, and nightly blackouts imposed, but no shots fired or bombs dropped. The shooting war started in 1940, and it was around that same time that Lynn became the host of the BBC radio program Sincerely Yours; the show became incredibly popular with overseas servicemen who missed their girlfriends, and her regular songs included such hopeful/heartsick ballads as "White Cliffs of Dover," "We'll Meet Again," "Wishing," and "Yours," which were taken to heart by the British public. Her recordings -- now done for Decca Records, which had absorbed the Crown label some years before -- all sold well, and Lynn also made several films during the war years, appeared in a stage revue, and sang for troops in Asia. Her sentimental brand of pop music was regarded as a huge help to morale, and Lynn herself virtually a national treasure.

Within just a few months of the end of the Second World War, Lynn surprised and shocked the public by announcing her retirement. As early as Christmas of 1946 she'd begun a limited return to recording, however, and by the end of 1947 she was working again, touring the variety circuit and gaining another BBC radio program. Decca seized a golden opportunity in 1948 by releasing Vera Lynn material in America during a musicians strike that had crippled the stateside music industry, and Lynn gained a Top Ten hit that year with "You Can't Be True, Dear." And in 1952, she became the first British artist to hit number one on the American charts when "Auf Wiederseh'n Sweetheart" spent nine weeks at the top spot. That same year, Lynn managed an astonishing hat trick back home with the advent of the first singles chart for England -- unveiled in New Musical Express in November of that year -- when her records occupied three of the top 12 positions. Her first (and only) British number one came two years later, with "My Son My Son," and she gradually moved from radio/variety work to television spots during the '50s in order to round out her schedule, recording increasingly contemporary material during the 1960s -- when she left Decca for EMI -- and '70s. She received an OBE from the British crown in 1969, and in 1975 was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire. Though she performed sparingly during the 1980s, she did appear at commemorations for the 40th anniversary of D-Day and the 50th anniversary of the beginning of World War II, and continued to do charity work. In 2005, she also spoke on behalf of veterans of World War II on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of VE Day.

And as it turned out, even in the twenty-first century, 70 years after she'd cut her first records, Lynn's career as a top-selling recording artist was not yet over. In September of 2009, the 92-year-old Lynn became the oldest singer ever to top the British album charts, when a new Decca collection of her World War II recordings, We'll Meet Again: The Very Best of Vera Lynn, hit the number one spot, a doubly extraordinary achievement in light of the reissue of the entire Beatles catalog that same month. It was an occasion noted by news services around the world, and spoke volumes about the love that the British hold for the singer and her music. ~ John Bush & Bruce Eder, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

I was definitely born in the wrong decade.
♪♪♪ ♥ I was born in 1268. How would these artists and recordings ever be known without the invention of the computer, hence, the Internet. I shudder to imagine otherwise.
dlowery428
She represents an era I feel was America and England's best, WWII. I was born in 1946, and love to reflect how my parents raised us seven kids after the war. They were the greatest generation.
khazerei
It was an occasion noted by news services around the world, and spoke volumes about the love that the British hold for the singer and her music. AND ME, STARTING IN WARTIME AND NEVER ENDING!
I love how some people discovered Vera Lynn via Pink Floyd.
Got hooked on her via Pink Floyd's The Wall. She features prominently in the lyrics at one point. Did some research on who she was and wow... great stuff!
REMEMBER HER HEART TUGGIN WE'LL MEET AGAIN AS A KID WHILE FAMILY MEN WERE IN EUROPE !!!
I was just a kid in NYC when I heard Vera Lynn's voice coming from England during the blitz and I am delighted to hear her again. Bless you Vera for uplifting all our spirits during those dark times.
mrs.sensei2
Dame Vera Lynn was the Bob Hope of England Leo O'Connor
It's such a joy to listen to Dame Vera again. It brings back so many memories. Thank You Pandora.
Jack--- Was there!! Brings tears to my eyes to hear her wonderful voice.
elainear
Pandora had Vera Lynn singing My Son and I loved it. Can I get it played again for me?
irene195
Vera Lynn - my first time hearing this artist singing my song for my husband, "It Had To be You", and Ms. Lynn it had to be you singing this so well.
Had'nt heard Ms. Lynn in years, thanks Pandora.
I'm with Ben on this one. I too was born too late, but thank Edison for his invention of the phonograph.. .
gdrabin
I was a little kid when she was popular during WWII. I stll love listening to her.
Brings back lovely memories. Music was music back then!
cowinhand
herandkatesm i t h a r e t h e b e s t
What a blessed relief from today's alleged singers. I can finally understand each word again. Not only was she a great talent, she chse songs that will live forever.
She's amazing!! A musical treasure. Maxwell
The sweetheart of the forties and world war two ! I grew up listening to Vera Lynn on the radio, and old 78rpm records. Her sweet voice sends Chills thru my body, and there will never be another singer like her !
norman_myr32
a very pleasant voice along with good choices of songs that can be related to by good music lovers keep them going vera
Her We'll Meet Again is played every year in Amsterdam, NL, to end the Dutch WWII memorial concert on the Amstel called "Bevridingsd a g "
Love that era!
' this mutiny at sea'
and the times of 'mad dogs and englishmen'!
I pray we will have an artist as gifted as Vera Lynn, again, and soon.
Her voice is such a pleasure and a treasure.
NED FLEISHMAN
fennybrank
there never will be again such an era as that of WWII and the wonderful togetherness that existed then.
i was born one generation too late.
when i was a young boy i heard a radio show in the early 1940s she was sing to group of service men off to war the songe now is the hour and we will meet they sang along with her it was great
kellied
I was in love with 40's music as a teen when I listened to a Stardust station based out of Chicago. That was when I started listening to Vera and was entranced by her voice!
DLOVE8389
BEAUTIFUL VOICE BEAUTIFUL LADY. CLASS. IT WAS WRITTEN ALL OVER HER (CLASS)
Still A Sweatheart and A Pleasure to Hear Always.
brings back memories
psud
The most beautiful voice, no wonder she was the darling of the British armed forces.
Really a heavenly voice. Listen also to Nana Mouskouri; a voice from heaven.
thom

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